Magazine article The Spectator

Diary

Magazine article The Spectator

Diary

Article excerpt

Thank the Lord this will be the last time conference-goers have to endure the hellhole that calls itself Blackpool. The last time I stayed in a Blackpool hotel at a party conference was in the mid-1990s. I woke up at 2 a. m. on the first night covered in sweat. I hadn't been indulging in any, er, nefarious activity and didn't feel ill, but I eventually worked it out. The caring Blackpool hotel owner had thoughtfully put rubber incontinence sheets on the bed. Now I am sure some people would pay good money for that sort of thing, but I decided to check out the next morning. Each time I have gone to Blackpool since then I've stayed in the gloriously named Ribby Hall Holiday Village, a sort of modern-day Butlins without the red coats, located a few miles outside the town that even the locals dub Chav City. As a conference centre, the Winter Gardens remains stuck in the 1950s.

As a blogger, an internet connection is a must for me at any conference venue. I rang the Winter Gardens to ask if they had wifi. I really don't know why I bothered. I might as well have been asking for the availability of a nuclear physics lab. For the next few years the Tories are off to Birmingham and Manchester. I long for the day when Cardiff has enough hotel rooms to attract a conference of this size. It's one of the most vibrant cities in Britain.

Life as a blogger at a party conference can be weird. My blog has about 50,000 readers (nearly as many as The Spectator! ) and all of them seemed to be in Blackpool. People find it odd when I say I'm actually quite shy, so I don't always find it easy to react to people who tell me how wonderful they think my blog is. I mean, how would you react when someone says: 'I think you're an absolute legend!' But in the blogosphere you make many enemies as well as new friends. You're either too sycophantic or too disloyal, too shrill or too friendly. You're too right-wing or not rightwing enough. There's only black and white, no grey. Virtually every day I get called a fascist **** or worse. My parenthood is regularly called into question. So why do I do it? Because blogging is a liberating experience and it's a way of saying what you want to say, when you want to say it, and without a media filter. Try it. You might like it.

Afew weeks ago I had the bright idea of compiling a league table of the Top 100 Most Influential People on the Right. The Telegraph has been running the list all week, culminating with the Top 25 on the day David Cameron (the number one, natch) made his speech. A journalist rang me to ask why I was doing it. He wanted to know what was in it for me. …

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